From "Developing Leadership Skills Through Scouting" "The Patrol Method"
By Leonard Corbett Aamodt 2005
"The patrol method described in this supplement is geared to Boy Scouting, but the main principle behind it, letting boys learn to lead by leading, applies to all four Scouting programs. The methods are different in each Scouting program, in order to take into account the differing abilities that come with that age. The sophisticated procedures of a Venturing crew would be beyond the abilities of an eleven-year-old Scout. A Boy Scout troop needs much more adult supervision than does a Varsity team, and a Varsity team needs more adult supervision than does a Venturing crew. Venturing officers should be able to run their own program with minimal help from their Advisor. This is possible, however, only if the leadership qualities that should have been taught in the troop and team have been taught. When a gap is left—when one of the links in the Scouting chain is missing—we should not be surprised to find Venturing-age boys with few leadership capabilities." LDS ResourcesIs the Patrol Method used in Venturing? Why yes it is despite not having Patrols!
The Patrol Method is a simple concept. It's how youth run a Boy Scout Troop. But includes many aspects that Venturers use in our program; Leadership Training (ILSC, NYLT, NAYLE, Kodiak etc), Leadership development in the Crew, activity/outing management, competition and the Annual Program Plan.
Youth leadership development is a fundamental part of the Venturing program. A major aspect of leadership development is the planning of activities and weekly meetings based on the Annual Program Plan developed by the youth. Another aspect of Venturing program is the actual management of the outings, specifically camping trips.
As an Advisor, what type of camping should I encourage the crew be attempting? The answer is simple, whatever the youth want to do. We do a mix of traveling and staying hotels/condos, bunk-rooms/cabins, big heavy tents and lightweight back pack tents.
Experience has shown me that these don't seem to work as a traditional troop car camping trips. you don't have patrols or a traditional "chain of command' structure during the event. The thrust of a traditional Boy Scout camping trip might typically be setting up of the camp and cooking and maybe a hike or swim or canoeing etc. Some would care more about having s'mores at the end of the day than the activity.
Camping, in Venturing, seems to be the not the point of the outing, but the method of sleeping arrangements. We go camping so that we can use the nearby rifle range. We stay at the cabin because it is near the ski slopes. We recently had an amazing trip to New York City. We stayed at a rented house for the week. We really only slept there and didn't cook meals or hang out there. It was just a place to sleep. We just needed a place that was clean, safe and convenient.
The same should be true for camp outs. Crews need to be nimble and flexible as a unit. Flexibility aids in the ability to setup and take down camp as quickly as possible, to eat and run, move on to the next part of the adventure. But this requires a certain level of maturity. As we pursue more and more High Adventure activities, we need to approach more events with this in mind. Packing smart, light and with a sense of easy travel will help your program succeed.
There is a huge difference in what an eleven year old and a fourteen year old can handle. Venturing age youth can and should be more responsible for their own at certain times. Primarily on meals and sleeping arrangements. Some meals should be prepared traditionally as a group, but some meals should be on them to plan, buy and prepare; as individuals. That way when there is only 10 minutes to eat, they can take care of themselves and be ready to go afterwards. Simple, quick, individual meals are the best for eating on the go.
This is likely the reason that hammock camping is taking off. Easy to set up and everyone has something to do during camp setup. Backpacking tents have dropped in price as well. A few crew-owned tents for the beginners is a good idea.
Let's tie this back to the "Patrol Method". A Patrol Leader manages the camp setup and meal preparation. This is literally part of the leadership training a troop. But here it is not necessary and slows everything down. The Crew President or Activity Chair should be more in charge of the event and less in charge of camp set up and take down. Crew Advisors should aid this process. Keep an eye to their progress and ask many questions along the way.
Competitiveness is also part of the Patrol Method. Venturers add competitions into the program through Area Level inter-Crew events like the annual Southern Region Area 5 Legacy Event. These events are more team building events than out-and-out competitions like Boy Scout District Camporees. Competition encourages teamwork and adds a lot of fun to the program.
I'm not sure what to call it, the "Venturing Method"? Yes, that seems appropriate. The Venturing Method incorporates the Patrol Method in planning and in leadership practice but with more self reliance on the individual in order to promote a more active program. This should include High Adventure activities that require more planning and skill development.
Good Luck, and keep on Venturing!